Nats' Norris deal falls through (source)

April 11th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- A potential Minor League deal between the Nationals and right-hander Bud Norris fell through, a source confirmed to on Thursday. Norris had been at the team’s facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., this week so the Nationals could determine how Major League ready he was, as well as close some of the information gap on him.

But after evaluating Norris, Washington felt he was too far away from helping them at the big league level, where they are seeking aid for a bullpen with the worst ERA in the National League (7.79).

Norris, 34, was the Cardinals' closer for most of last season, when he registered a career-high 28 saves with a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings. He signed a Minor League contract with the Blue Jays at the beginning of March and tossed three innings in the Grapefruit League for them, slowed by some forearm soreness. Initially, he was supposed to continue building up arm strength at extended Spring Training, but he was abruptly cut by Toronto last week.

The Nationals were trying to determine if Norris would be a low-risk solution to their ailing bullpen, but ultimately decided to move on.

Washington is keeping its options open for bullpen help at the moment, according to a source, and is monitoring the free-agent relief market for potential additions.

The market includes closer Craig Kimbrel, whom the Nats showed interest in last month, but it remains difficult to see how he would fit without going over the competitive balance tax threshold at $206 million. The Nationals estimated payroll is a little more than $197 million, according to estimates from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That makes Washington likely to shop at the bargain table for a reliever who might be able to help cure its early season relief woes.